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Avendel - An Open Door

Temporal sat at her desk. For eight months she had done an exemplary job, won the recognition of her supervisors and managers, been noted as a high achiever, received the most complex and high profile jobs in the department, and been promoted twice.

She had also been stealing sensitive data on a daily basis and passing it to Cadge. Being a very, very good data thief, Temporal took price in her work. A part of her, however, craved praise and attention.

At first, the risk of being caught was enough of a rush to justify the risk, but now it had become routine. The sense of danger, long gone, needed to be restirred, but the only way to add danger would be to get sloppy.

To be sloppy aobut it meant to be caught.

To be caught meant death. On this point the laws were very clear.

In an age where the only truly valuable commodity was information, data theft was a high crime, indeed. Odd how even the threat of death could lose its edge when one became used to it.

Complacency, however, had brought down more successful and clever theives than Temporal. So she spent an inordinate amount of time combatting the boredom which threatened to overwhelm her as she absconded with her daily dose of data.

Sighing, she finished that day's download and wished for a new challenge.

Security had been upgrading the systems recently, but so far it hadn't been anything to worry about. Though cutting edge, Temporal made sure she knew the schematics and abilities of every new piece fo security equipment available on the market and in development at all of the major suppliers.

Nothing in use at Comet Tail, at this point, was beyond her knowledge. The trick was to find the one small path open to her that avoided technology. A small smile crossed her lips as she thought of three ways to do it.

The shy installation man smiled back, mistaking Temporal's smile of satisfaction as a flirtation.

In the security office, Drake Novana was smiling as well. His new security measures made Comet Tail, Inc. the most secure non-governmental business in the known galaxy.

But of all the cutting edge toys they'd recently bought, it was a small black box on his desk that Drake treasured. It was of his own design and there was nothing likeit anywhere, nor would there be.

After a lifetime in the security game, he wasn't worried aobut the people who could be caught by any of the conventional means, he was interested in the ones who couldn't.

As a child, he recalled, he had received a thrill each time he broke through another layer of protection and security. Whether on the computer or physically, it didn't matter, he just loved to outsmart those who thought they could stop him, to beat them at their own game. All of this mischief had stemmed from a curiosity to see what was so important he had to be kept out.

The unfortunate result of his escapades was the discovery that most of what people hid and kept locked away wasn't worth the trouble to break the security and take a look.

Still reeling from this revelation, Drake had agreed to help a friend hack into a secured system. He should have known better, should have seen the trap, but had been to involved in his own disappointment to pay attention to all the details.

One small misstep and in the loving arms of the juveneille corrections system.

The stay in the system did little to deter his love of beating security, but it did alter his focus slightly. Now, instead of beating security for the fun of it, he would work on beating security to make it better.

He would take his knowledge and use it to make an unbeatable security system.

The black box on his desk represented the culmination of that endeavor.

It had just found something all the lavish security Comet Tail, Inc. possessed has missed.

She was good. Very good. Very bold.

But he was better.

His smile increased slightly and a deep chuckle began in the depths of his belly.

Temporal Bliss was in for a big surprise.

His communicator beeped. "Drake," he responded.

"It's Harlan. Have you found our lost item?" inquired a deep, melodious voice from the other end.

Drake ground his teeth. He hated Harlan Fraesten. "No sir," he replied, "but I believe I have a lead."

"Good. When you have recovered the information, bring the culprit to me. I want to see the worm suffer." "Sir, this thief is remarkably clever. I still haven't uncovered who it is or their method," he lied. "This one is good, sir. Very, very good."

"I didn't hire you to tell me who's good and who's not. I hired you to prevent this from happening. If that scum ever figures out what they have, it will mean big trouble. Very big trouble."

"Sir, I understand that," Drake said, begining to lose his patience, after all, who did Harlan think he was talking to? If anyone had an idea of exactly how much was at stake, it had to be him, Drake Novana. After all, when it all came tumbling down, he would be the one left in the hot seat unless he provided well for himself. "I believe this thief might be almost up to my level, if not at it. Sir, this type of talent doesn't come along very often. It might prove useful."

"Hmm. What do you have in mind, I wonder?" mused the voice at the other end of the conversation. Here's what we'll do. When you find out who it is, find out why and how they were doing this. Theirs might be a talent we can use. And if someone else is pressuring them into this, we might be able to use that tool as well. A little security measure to ensure our security. If they're as good as you say, you might find some free time to take that vacation you keep moaning about. Bring the scum to me." Drake felt the blood pound through his veins and the color rise in his face. Maybe he'd oversold, but the girl was good. Very good. And Harlan Fraesten was an idiot. "Yes, sir," he muttered through gritted teeth.

"Do what you have to to see it done. I want this one." The command came with an underlying edge of steel in his voice. "Harlan out".

Drake closed his eyes and tried very hard to release the anger that was pushing his blood pressure up to unreasonable levels. He could feel it continue to build. The rage began washing over him in waves, pounding against his resolve and reserve. Picking up a glass that lay nearby, he screamed as he threw it against the wall across the room and watched it shatter.

It shouldn't matter. It shouldn't threaten him. Intellectual inferiors like Harlan Fraesten shouldn't be able to get on his nerves. Yet they did. Constantly.

Taking a deep breath, Drake ran his hands through his almost black hair. Still. It was rare to run across someone of such skill. She probably wouldn't have been caught if it hadn't been for his invention throwing an unexpected loop into the security scheme. He needed to make sure she didn't find out about it or he'd most likely be blind to her actions once more.

Find out what she was doing. Find out how she did it. Find out why she did it and use it to manipulate her.

Plan your work then work your plan. The adage may be older than time itself, but it still held true. The problem before him now was how to get to Temporal Bliss.

Step one: research.

Pulling up her employee files he began a thorough investigation into everything she had said. Double checking references, addresses, dates, everything he could find out. After that, there would be some leg work, maybe Coren would be a good resource for that. A cruel smile twisted his full lips. Not exactly brilliant, was Coren, but he was reliable, accurate, detailed and merciless.

Yes, Temporal Bliss was about to embark on a new path in life and she didn't even have a clue.

He flicked his central monitor over the the monitor that watched her area. There she sat wrapping up her day's work without an idea in her head of what awaited her. Yes, Miss Bliss, you had a few surprised in store. Of course, it was up to him, Drake Novana, to plan those surprises and surmise the best way to engage her. He also had to be careful of what she did and didn't have access to until he could be sure of her.

For himself, he wanted to get a very good look at her tools. It certainly wasn't everyone who could beat his system, he thought as she stood up from her desk and left for the day. No, it wasn't even most anyones who could break his security. "Who are you, Temporal Bliss?" he wondered out loud, "What's your story? What's your weakness?"